Trump health chief declines to detail ObamaCare replacement plan

Trump health chief declines to detail ObamaCare replacement plan
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One of President TrumpDonald John TrumpHR McMaster says president's policy to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is 'unwise' Cast of 'Parks and Rec' reunite for virtual town hall to address Wisconsin voters Biden says Trump should step down over coronavirus response MORE’s top health officials on Wednesday repeatedly declined to detail the administration’s plan if a court rules ObamaCare is unconstitutional.

“The president has made clear that we will have a plan in action to make sure Americans have access to affordable coverage,” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Administrator Seema Verma said at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing.

But under questioning from House Democrats, Verma declined to be more specific. 

“Can you produce for me right now the Trump administration’s plan to protect the people?” Rep. Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGette87 lawmakers ask EPA to reverse course after rescinding methane regulations Overnight Health Care: Supreme Court to hear ObamaCare arguments 1 week after election | NYC positive COVID-19 tests hit record low With Biden, advocates sense momentum for lifting abortion funding ban MORE (D-Colo.), chair of the Oversight Subcommittee, asked. “Can you produce that plan right now?”

“I’m not going to get into any specifics,” Verma said.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PallonePharma execs say FDA will not lower standards for coronavirus vaccine Dem chairmen urge CMS to prevent nursing homes from seizing stimulus payments Federal watchdog finds cybersecurity vulnerabilities in FCC systems MORE (D-N.J.), the chairman of the full committee, also pressed Verma for details about what the administration would do in a post-ObamaCare environment.

“Does the president have a plan and what is the plan? It sounds like he has a secret plan he doesn’t want to reveal,” Pallone said. “Could you just tell us some information …  in the event that he is successful in this awful lawsuit?”

“I’m not going to get into specifics about the plan,” Verma said. “We have planned for a number of different scenarios, but we need to hear from the courts."

A federal appeals court is poised to rule in the coming days or weeks whether to uphold a lower court’s ruling that the entire law is unconstitutional. 

The lawsuit was originally brought by a coalition of conservative state attorneys general, and is backed by the administration. The administration has argued the entire law, including its protections for people with pre-existing conditions, should be struck down.

If the court agrees that the law is unconstitutional, an appeal to the Supreme Court in the heart of election season would be likely. To date, administration officials have said the law would remain in place, no matter what the court rules, as the legal process plays out.

As recently as Monday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said his agency was “not worried” about the decision coming from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, and emphasized there would be no disruption for the upcoming open enrollment period, which begins Nov. 1.

“Our message would be, ‘Keep calm and carry on,’” Azar said when asked about the impact of the pending decision. “There will be no immediate disruption to anybody. We will run the program the day after such a ruling the same way we ran the program the day before.”